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Der »Fotografische Kunstverlag Otto Schmidt«, Ein Handbuch

The book is published on the occasion of the exhibition of the same name at the Leopold Museum in Vienna (May 20 – August 28, 2022), which is a cooperation between the Leopold Museum and the Photoinstitut Bonartes (Vienna).

With the rapidly growing number of photo studios, it became difficult to make a living from commissioned portraits. Thus, the 1860s saw the emergence of a competitive market in collectible images with new subjects and formats. Instead of selling a few copies of a photograph to individual customers, countless copies were now produced and sold through publishers. One of the most successful of the photographers who had now advanced to being publishers was Otto Schmidt. He had already been successful in 1873 with a series of Viennese types, which offered a small ethnography of the imperial capital and royal residence in a nostalgic, evocative style. Soon after, he devoted himself to the production of studies (Études d’après nature), which served as illustrative material for artists, as well as (art) craftsmen and architects. He created about 4000 landscape, architectural and hand studies. The most lucrative – because worldwide – business, however, was his nude production, which, incidentally, was the most extensive in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. His business successor, the painter Eduard Büchler, continued this production; altogether they took about 8000 nude subjects.
This publication examines a historical corpus of images and explores the connections between aesthetics, economics, and the circulation and consumption of images. Images from it were in the possession of numerous painters and sculptors, but also of physicians, anthropologists, or even “connoisseurs”. The pictures, some of which were classified as “lewd,” provoked bourgeois values; court cases bear witness to this. The book is divided into about 50 thematic headings, which can be read in any order.

Michael Ponstingl is a photo historian and curator at the Photoinstitut Bonartes, Vienna.

2022,Soft Cover, Stitched Binding
24 × 19 cm,296 Pages
∞ Colour images
∞ B/W images
Edition: 1000
Text: Michael Ponstingl

Language: German

ISBN: 978-3-903334-41-0


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